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Will truckers’ minimum insurance requirement increase?

Truck drivers are required to carry insurance coverage like all other drivers on the road. The minimum amount of insurance they must carry under federal law is $750,000, and that number has not been increased in three decades.

Pursuant to a 2012 federal transportation bill, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates interstate trucking, asked the public whether the number is still sufficient, and the agency got more than 2,000 responses.

On one side, truck owners and operators argued that the current $750,000 minimum is plenty considering that most truckers already carry $1 million liability policies, the trucking and insurance industries claim.

But many personal injury lawyers who represent truck accident victims and their families told the FMCSA that a catastrophic or deadly trucking accident can easily result in well-over $1 million in medical expenses and related damages, the Northeast Ohio Media Group reported.

For example, the founder of the Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice said a 20-year-old who was catastrophically injured in a trucking accident would need $4.4 million to cover semi-private nursing home care, or $2.4 million to pay for an assisted living facility, if he or she lives to the age of 77.

The group also pointed out that that $750,000 in medical care when the minimum level was set in 1980 is equal to $4.8 million in medical costs today after considering inflation. Additionally, there is an average of 4,000 fatal trucking accidents each year, and nearly every one results in a claim exceeding $750,000.

Ultimately, the FMCSA seems to agree that catastrophic trucking accidents "can easily exceed $1 million," but it also noted how rare these cases are, so there is no telling what the agency will decide.

The comment period on the matter closed on Feb. 26, and the FMCSA said it will now review all of the comments. But there is no deadline in place, so it could be years before any decision is made.

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